Saturday, January 15, 2011

An Article About Nothing

By: Becky Ballard
Isn’t it ironic when a person who is annoyingly chatty and always received a check for “talks too much” on her report card as a student suddenly is speechless and blank when asked to write an article for her favorite blog? Well, that is the position I am in when asked by Liza to write an entry. First of all, I am so in awe of Liza’s flair for writing. Her thoughts seem to flow effortlessly from her keyboard and are so insightful, clever, and charming. Her entries make me cackle out loud, choke up with tears, and wish I were as well read and intelligent as she is. So, after typing those thoughts, now I feel even more insecure about my writing abilities, and to steal a quote from my students, “I can’t think of anything to write!”

As soon as that sentence leaves my mouth as if it were in a cartoon bubble, an episode from the highly intellectual situation comedy Seinfeld enters my brain. For those Seinfeld enthusiasts like myself, remember the episode where Jerry and George create a sit-com for NBC and it’s about nothing? I can so identify with those characters right now! I have been snowed in for days with my two daughters who I adore, but have had very little adult conversation, since my highway department husband has been working overtime and isn’t in the mood to chit-chat when he gets home, bless his tired heart. So I don’t think the Pillow Book readers will appreciate an entry about my conversations with my daughters: Put the cats out now! Stop fighting with each other! No you cannot put baby lotion on the cat! Please turn I Carly down! Stop yelling at each other! (I yell). What in the world will I write about? I haven’t exactly been stimulated with deep thoughts over these 5 days of snow. Hmmmm.....crickets....hmmmmm....

Aha! To quote George Costanza (Another Seinfeld reference), I see the book I’ve been reading for the past few days on the end table that has really spoken to me as a mother and a high-strung person who gets easily annoyed at things that don’t really matter. (Yes, I sweat the small stuff Richard Carlson, so sorry to disappoint.)

The book I have been reading is titled Resilience by the now deceased Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Senator and former Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards. To quote from the title it is her reflections on the burdens and gifts of facing life’s adversities, and she had all of the above. It’s a beautiful memoir about her life’s struggles and is very inspiring. The chapter that touched me the most is where she describes the day her 16 year old son died. That afternoon Elizabeth and her daughter Cate were visiting private schools for her to attend. Cate was not a willing participant and had somewhat put a damper on the day. On the plane ride home, a family with a crying baby and a young child who kicked the back of Elizabeth’s seat for the entire trip, really agitated Elizabeth. Can you imagine anything so annoying? Elizabeth complained, she said, the entire way as her husband drove her home from the airport. Not long after arriving to their house a state trooper pulled into her driveway with the devastating news that her son was dead. She reflects back to the previous moments of getting so aggravated and thinks, in her own words, how silly.

So, I would like to ask those who like myself, sweat the small stuff to make an effort to identify the “crisis” in your life as what it is. When I’m at the end of my rope with my daughters who argue all day, I will be glad they are alive, healthy, and safe in my home. When I fly into a silent rage because someone has returned an empty box of cereal in the pantry, I will be thankful we have food. When my job leaves me discouraged and exhausted, I will be thankful I have a means of supporting myself and my family. When I am in a hurry and get behind a slow driver, I will think this is God’s way of slowing me down, and enjoy the beauty of my surroundings. Because the everyday stresses of life, that I so often blow out of proportion, they really are about nothing.

"We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -- but rather, how well we have loved—and what small part we have played in making the lives of ...other people better."

President Barack Obama
Tucson Memorial Service, January 1...2, 2011


  1. I laughed, I cried-great message Becky!! :)

  2. I really enjoyed the post. I recently experienced something personally that has made me too realize that sweating the small stuff is really not worth it. I now appreciate my healthy daughter and annoying, but loving husband so much more! It does make life more enjoyable! Great job!

  3. Becky,
    Great post! I love your humor and especially your wisdom. I can so relate to your feelings of exasperation as a parent, homemaker, educator, etc., and I often need the reminder to see the bigger picture, not the cat vomit on my rug or the surly student who threatens to ruin my day. I have a mantra on my fridge that says: "Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." If we can find this inner peace, this calmness of spirit, we can then see the blessings around us that you've so eloquently described! To quote Liza (who may have been quoting someone else?), it's all about Attitude, Awareness, Authenticity. Loved reading your post and hearing your "voice"!

  4. Becky, you are a hit. I think this calls for more Pillow Book posts:).

    Thank you so much for contributing. As the others have said, your "voice" really is something special.

  5. I can hear your voice in your writing. It is so you. I do see you as a person who realizes the important things in life are not the materialistic ones but the precious moments spent with family and friends as well as the memories we make each day with those we love. Thank you for being you!
    Lots of Love,"Mrs." Jackie